Believing In Acceptance

Ryan - Minnetonka, Minnesota
Entered on April 11, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I come from a very large extended family. I have over 45 first cousins. My fondest memories are of large family reunions. I have always felt a strong unconditional love and support from all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Until recently. You see my mom’s side of the family is very religious, with strong beliefs of what is right and wrong. I have questioned some of their beliefs, but I never let it bother me or come between us. However two years ago, everything changed. My sister, whom I love dearly, told us she was a lesbian. My Episcopalian upbringing did not condemn my sister’s sexuality. We embraced her unconditionally. Whom she chose to love made no difference to us, as long as she was happy. However this was not the case for my extended family on my mom’s side. It took over six months for a most of them to finally accept her for who she is, yet a few of them still haven’t. I believe in acceptance.

Is acceptance accepting people who are like you or are different from you? When someone talks, dresses, and acts exactly like you it is easier to accept them. But when you encounter a situation where you are faced with someone who is entirely different than you, things change. People start to back away from you and treat you like an alien. I have first handedly seen this persecution take place. My mom’s side of the family claims to be open-hearted and very holy. But when they found out that my sister was a lesbian they treated her like they have never seen her in their life. She was treated as if she was a ghost in the family. It pained me to see her endure this treatment. She was the same person as before. Nothing about her personality changed. I thought the religious golden rule was to love thy neighbor as thy self. Thinking about future I think about all of the important events that are going to happen in my life and how they are going to be shared and celebrated with my extended family. I will bring my girlfriend to my family cabin, get married and be showered in gifts and presents, and even have them be there to help to raise my children. Then thinking of my sister, she will miss out on all of that. She won’t be able to bring her girlfriend to our cabin. Her marriage will be considered sinful and wrong and few extended family members with show up, also I think about how they will view her children if she adopts. Will they view them and her own or someone else’s? I am not a better person than my sister. I have nothing different to earn their love. But they accept me because I’m no different from them.

Today’s society is a funny thing. I’ve seen kids who at church pray and attend communion but shortly after go out and throw rocks at cars, and experiment with drugs. Morals and beliefs have been mixed with phobias and hatred. My hope is that one day this world will accept everyone no matter color, sexuality or gender. This I believe.